Mammal Collection

The Vertebrate Museum’s mammal collection contains approximately 8,750 specimens, including skins and skeletal material from a variety of terrestrial, aquatic, marine and volant mammals. The research collection is currently the second largest of its kind in the California State University System at just over 9,000 specimens. The collection dates back to 1923 and is particularly strong in marine mammals of the Pacific Ocean and terrestrial mammals from northern California and the Great Basin. It is fully accredited by the American Society of Mammalogists. We also have an outstanding teaching collection of over 800 specimens, with exceptional coverage of the Orders and Families of living mammals.


We are currently in the process of migrating our catalog to Arctos. In the meantime, our catalog up to 2016 is available to search on VertNet.

Frozen Tissue Collection

In the fall of 2001 the Humboldt Vertebrate Museum began a frozen tissue collection for mammals. All new mammals accessioned into the museum are being accompanied by tissue samples (i.e., heart, liver or kidney). Each tissue specimen is linked via a computer data base to the actual museum specimen from which it was taken. Frozen tissue collections such as ours serve as a valuable resource for genetic studies which are becoming increasingly important in the fields of conservation biology, systematics, biogeography and forensic sciences.


Our tissue catalog will be searchable on Arctos in the near future. For now, please email for tissue queries.

Herpetology Collection

The Humboldt Vertebrate Museum contains a diverse collection of reptiles and amphibians used in research and teaching. The Amphibian and Reptile Research Collections number approximately 750 jars each (with up to a dozen specimens per jar), with an additional 360 jars in the teaching collection. In total, our Herpetology Collection includes over 1,800 jars and 6,000-7,000 individual specimens.  This collection dates back to 1929 and is especially strong in specimens from the amphibian-rich Pacific Northwest. 


Our herp catalog is available on VertNet.

Ornithology Collection

The Bird Collection at the Humboldt Vertebrate Museum contains 545 specimens, used primarily in teaching.

The major collection of birds at Humboldt is housed in the Department of Wildlife. The Wildlife Museum contains an outstanding collection of over 8,000 bird skins, mounts, and skeletal material, with an additional 3,400 bird egg sets and nests.

Public Exhibits

The Humboldt Vertebrate Museum Collections are primarily for research and teaching, and most are not on public display. However, several whale specimens are displayed on campus, including a rare complete skeleton of a Hubb’s Beakes whale in the lobby of Science B. 

The two best opportunities to view public displays of natural history specimens on and around campus are:

In the Wildlife and Fisheries Building. The Humboldt Department of Wildlife has many excellent examples of mounted birds and mammals on display for the public. 

At the Humboldt Natural History Museum in downtown Arcata. The Natural History Museum contains a variety of wonderful exhibits and programs for students of all ages.

Other Natural History Collections

There are a number of other natural history collections on or near the Humboldt campus. Please visit their webpages to learn more.

Vascular Plant Herbarium

Fish Collection

Wildife Museum

Natural History Museum

Dennis K. Walker Greenhouse